State elected officials, from the governor on down, have the kind of pension benefits that people in the private sector can only dream of, reports the Texas Tribune. The benefits are vested after just eight years. They can retire at age 50 with 12 years of service. There are multiple avenues to boost their pension amount. There is even a provision allowing them to double dip their salary and retirement benefits. And it is all completely secret.
Individual records held by the state's public pension systems — including the one that state lawmakers pay into — have an airtight exemption from the landmark 1973 sunshine law that was designed to let taxpayers know how public money is being spent. The secrecy has made it difficult for voters to know what kind of pension benefits their elected representatives are getting — or helping give to others. Now some lawmakers want to start peeling back the layers of pension privacy, both for the Legislature and various public retirement systems that state and local policymakers say have been reluctant to cough up information about the health of their retirement plans. A state representative from Houston has filed a bill designed to increase and standardize reporting requirements for all public pension systems in Texas.